On Lying Awake Waiting for The Pathologist’s Report
If this thing is gonna kill me I’m gonna do it right, like E. who evaporated proud and frail having opted not for the torture of useless treatments instead immersing herself in painting a masterpiece of blue water, but not like M. who went down fast, his “BTW I’m dying” email lost in the inbox when I didn’t respond (M. you should have written again or called because I didn’t mean to ignore you) and not like S., blockaded by bodyguards from friends’ outpouring of love, also I don’t want to be like J. who exhausted her friends’ compassion with her demands for pity, and not like L. who left all her life’s work with a friend who couldn’t bear the burden of grief so let it all rot in a drawer forever, or B. who denied it was a life-threatening disease even though the hospice volunteer was obviously standing right there (so how could we gird ourselves for losing you?) — that’s not the way to do it, the dying owe it to the living to go out with eyes wide open and, like C., maybe afterwards send a pre-addressed, postage-paid packet of poppy seeds with a reminder to plant which the living would forget to do, yes, the living might fail but the dead should do it right, it’s what you learn from watching, what you learn from watching people slowly die . . . yes if this thing’s gonna kill me I’m gonna do it the right way, the right way: no cutting corners and no cheating.
Susan Starbird is alive and well in Sebastopol, California.
She is the author, illustrator, and anthologist of Susan The Magazine .
This piece was originally published in Unbroken.